Women's History Month - Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman to receive a medical degree in the US.

Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar

The last Ruler of Madagascar.

She's Crafty - Microscopic Edition!

Some really cool science inspired crafts!

Happy Birthday - Septima Poinsette Clark

The "Queen Mother" or "Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Joinin' in on the Bloglovin'

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

In an effort to reach as many potential readers as possible, I'm spreading the lovin'... the blog lovin' that is!

Are you on Bloglovin'? Or do you use another method of tracking your favorite blogs? RSS? Feedly? Something I haven't heard of yet? Please leave a note in the comments letting me know how you found SRPS!

Quote of the Day

You. Yes, you. You are special.

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost." Martha Graham

Monday, October 13, 2014

Latin@ Heritage Month - Latinas in Space 4

This is the fourth in a series of posts about Latinas working in the Space Industry. As you can read the first, second, and third posts, there are Latinas working at or for NASA in a wide variety of roles -- doing science, designing equipment, etc. Here are four more smart Latinas to celebrate!

Laurie Y. Carrillo
Laurie Y. Carrillo is a Materials Engineer, currently conducting thermal analysis to support the development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, NASA's next generation spacecraft. She creates computer models to simulate the heating of a spacecraft from internal systems and external environment heating. For this, she uses her knowledge of orbital mechanics, heat transfer, materials, programming, and applied mathematics.

Laurie was born in San Antonio, Texas. Her father was a migrant farm worker, and her mother was the daughter of a trash collector. She attended Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, Texas, for two years, but spent her junior and senior years at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a residential program for students who are gifted in math and science, where she graduated in 1994. She then earned her BA in Mathematics and Computational & Applied Math, as well as a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from Rice University in 1998. In 2002, she received a MS in Aerospace Engineering, with an emphasis in Space Operations, from the University of Colorado. She returned to Rice University to complete her PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Her area study involved numerical radiative heat transfer at the nanoscale, with applications in space technology, nanorobotics, advanced energy systems, and high speed computing systems.

Her career at NASA started as an intern the summer after her freshman year at college. But her dreams about space started much earlier. She spent many evenings lying on towels alongside her cousins, looking up at the stars, listening while her grandmother told them stories. She was particularly fond of a story about Salina, a young girl who was taken up to heaven and allowed to touch a star. Later, when she saw a Sesame Street segment where Sally Ride launched Oscar the Grouch out of his trash can, she realized there was a place where she could go to work as an adult.

In 1998, she was hired as a flight controller. She spent the next five years in the Advanced Space Propulsion Lab conducting thermal analysis. She also served as the Development Project Lead for the Space and Life Sciences Astromaterials team, and as the Lab Manager for the Advanced Curation Laboratory at Johnson Space Center.

Over her career, she has received many awards, served on several prominent professional committees, and even was involved in the Space Generation Summit held at the World Space Congress. Laurie has been selected by the Society of Women Engineers to receive the Past Presidents Award based on outstanding academic achievement as well as strong engineering potential. She was chosen as a Hispanic Engineering National Achievement Award Conference/Daimler Chrysler Scholar in 2005 and 2008. She was selected as a Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellow for 2006-07. In addition, Laurie led the Mexican American Engineers and Scientists Houston Professional Chapter to receive the highest award that a chapter could receive-Professional Chapter of the Year for 2001. "[A]ny time a Latina breaks a barrier, this opens the door for her to serve as a role model for those following behind. The more Latinas that enter technical fields, the more they will inspire younger generations of Latinas to consider these fields.”

Laurie Y. Carrillo profile on Latina Women of NASA
Reaching for the Stars - Latinas at NASA

Pat Carreon
Pat Carreon is an electrical engineer who's worked at Goddard Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center.

She was born in San Antonio, Texas, where she grew up honoring her roots in Mexico and Spain. She earned her BS in Electrical Engineering from Southern Methodist University, and her MS in Electrical Engineering from George Mason University.

While at Goddard, she was the network engineer for the Hubble Space Telescope Vision 2000 project. She also wrote flight software for the Gamma Ray Observatory and helped develop the Data Distribution Facility. In 1998, she transferred to Johnson Space Center, where she worked in the Missions Operations Directorate conducting operations research and strategic development. She also served as the lead for the development of the command servers and data archive server, supporting Shuttle and Space Station missions and simulators.

She is currently working with the Advanced Operations Cadre, reevaluating the way NASA performs operations on future missions and supporting the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations and Desert Research, where astronauts live in an underwater habitat, and Technology Study, where humans and robots are tested in an extreme desert environment in a meteor crater in Arizona.

She serves on the board reviewing proposals for newly designed launch vehicles, as well as examining the requirements necessary to return to flight space shuttle effort, and defining the future role of orbiters and crew exploration vehicles. She also spends time as a mentor for other NASA engineers through the Johnson Space Center mentorship program, as well as mentoring high school students interested in pursuing careers in engineering and science.

Pat Carreon profile on Latina Women of NASA

Adriana Ocampo
Adriana Ocampo is a planetary geologist and the Science Program Manager at NASA.

She was born in Barranquilla, Columbia, on January 5, 1955. Her family moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, while she was still an infant, and then again to Pasadena, California, when she was 15, in 1970. In 1983, she graduated with a BS in Geology from California State University, Los Angeles. She then went on to earn her MS in Planetary Geology from California State University, Northridge, in 1997, with a thesis on the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico. The Chicxulub crater was the major factor that caused a mass extinction 65 million years ago on our planet. Ocampo and her colleagues also discovered the Aorounga Crater Chain in Chad in 1996. She completed her PhD at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Starting in 1973 while she was still in high school, she volunteered at the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and returned as an employee during her summer breaks throughout college.

From 1998 to 2002, she worked as a Program Executive for Space Science missions, including missions with the European Space Agency, Russia, Japan, and Argentina. She also served as the desk officer for NASA's Office of External Relations working with Spain, Portugal, and Latin America.

From 2002 to 2004 she worked as a senior research staff member conducting research in comparative planetology of Solar System bodies. She was a member of the Mars Express Project Scientist Team, and worked to develop and implement the payload-commissioning plan. She also acted as the deputy project scientist for Venus Express, developing science operation architecture and an educational outreach plan.

In 2005, she was the Investigation Scientist for the Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer/High Energy Neutron Detector and the Mars Program Science Division and the Solid Earth and Natural Program.

In 1992, she received the Woman of the Year Award in Science from the Comisión Femenil. She also received the Advisory Council for Women Award at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1996 and the Science and Technology Award from the Chicano Federation in 1997. In 2003, she was selected among the 50 most important women in science by Discovery Magazine. She has served on the National Board of Directors and as the Chair of International Affairs Committee of the US Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, working to establish technical programs of cooperation of university student exchange programs between the US and Mexico. She is a member of The Planetary Society Advisory Council, the Association of Women in Geo-sciences, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Society of Women Engineers mentoring young girls.

Adriana Ocampo biography on Wikipedia
Adriana Ocampo profile on Latina Women of NASA

Berta Alfonso
Berta Alfonso is an electrical and computer science engineer who designed and developed computer hardware and software for projects supporting the Space Shuttle program and the International Space Station. She is currently serving as a University Affairs Office at Kennedy Space Center, leading educational programs connecting NASA with students and faculty around the world.

She was born in Cuba, but her family moved to the United States when she was six. She was enrolled in first grade without knowing any English. Fortunately, she found that math didn't have a language barrier. After high school, she earned her BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Miami. She then went on to earn a MS in Systems Engineering and Management from the University of Central Florida.

She joined NASA as a Design Engineer, where her first design project was a circuit card to emulate the Payload Signal Processor, a shuttle flight box that sends commands to shuttle payloads. Her card was used to test payloads on the ground before being launched, to ensure things work properly once in space.

She has also worked on software used for processing the health and safety of Space Station modules. And she has designed a flight interface card to receive data for analysis while in flight.

She is now serving as the Lead for Eduction in many agency-wide project managed at Kennedy Space Center, effectively merging her two passions: education and engineering.

"Do research and tinker. Learn to use your library resources, and to find reliable information on the internet. Ask questions to people working in fields that interest you. Learn by doing! Remember: You don’t always have to be right. All you have to do is to be willing to learn."

Berta Alfonso profile on Latina Women of NASA
Berta Alfonso profile on Mission Control website

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekend Reading

Here it is! Your weekly list of longreads! It's a long list this week, to make up for taking last week off. OK, not really. It's just that there were so many great long reads this week! Here's hoping you have a great weekend, filled with lots of fun and some quiet moments to read!

Jaya Saxena has a great piece on The Aerogram about her experiences being biracial: Identity In Pieces: When You Don’t Know Where You Count.
This confusion at your own place is the essence of being biracial. Even though you owe no one an explanation, there’s a desire to explain, which comes from believing that just by being yourself you are a liar. You’re an intruder in either space, with no right to claim one or the other without a heavy caveat. You’re not really what you say you are, not “technically.” It’s my feeling the need to need to clarify at those weddings, to say “I’m not entirely part of this group” or “It’s ok that I’m wearing this because my dad is Indian,” before anyone could call me out on my trespass.

Longreads Blog has a great interview with Sarah Menkedick, founder of Vela Magazine on  the limitations for women writers in publishing, and how her new venture plans to address that.
Ultimately, I wanted to create a publication that would be written by women because I wanted to say hey, women can do this kind of voice-driven innovative nonfiction, too, and you should be hiring and publishing them and reading their work, and also because I wanted to read more of this kind of work and find more women writers working between limited categories. I wanted a space that would not be marketed to women as dealing with “women’s” subjects, since I think part of the reason the byline gap exists is because certain subjects are considered “women’s” and marginalized, whereas men can write about anything without the subject being considered “male.” Also, while women are ushered toward these more “female” arenas, men are given meatier reporting assignments, and more dangerous and competitive assignments, as well as the intellectual freedom to write essays or criticism on a wide array of topics.
One of the goals of Vela’s current Kickstarter campaign is to fund bigger, more ambitious projects by women writers.

Want to see more women directing movies in Hollywood? Jessica Kiang has a fantastic list with lots of evidence in IndieWire: 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood.
So who, among the roughly 6% of directors who are women (the figure put forth in this widely reported 2014 survey), should work more? Short answer is, obviously, all of them. Because if we’re working to redress the ludicrous gender imbalance that exists in the U.S. film industry (and that is a too-obvious-to-even-comment-on goal, right? Right?) we need to see a dramatic uptick in stats like the percentage of women who direct the top 250 movies in any given year (2013’s depressing figure of 6% is actually down 3% from 2012, which is even more depressing). And let’s just repeat once again that, while “diversity” is a buzzword bandied about liberally these days, we’re not talking about a minority here (which is a whole other, though related, issue) we’re talking about women—50% of the population and, crucially, 50% of cinema audiences. (Also, 100% of the writers of this article, so have at it, crazy anti-feminist internet trolls.)

And speaking of women in Hollywood, Jack Heckel has written a charming, if totally scientific, accounting of Disney's historic reliance on a specific fairytale trope in Are All Princesses Really Waiting for Princes to Come?
Fortunately, things do not end there, because the thesis of this article is not that Dworkin and de Beauvoir are unassailably correct in their criticisms of fairytales. Anyone who has read the Grimm Brother’s collection or Lang or Perrault know that female roles in these stories run the gamut from passive to active, from porcelain doll to hardened adventurer, and everything in between—it simply took seventy plus years for modern popular culture to catch up.

Emma Healey has written a beautifully touching piece for The Hairpin illustrating the power of telling a story to open up lines of communication and honesty in Stories Like Passwords. [CN: sexual abuse, rape]
If you listen to enough stories like this, you’ll start to hear a few themes. These men are not ever that big of a deal. What they do to us is never really that bad in the grand scheme of things, no matter how big it feels at the time. It could always have been much worse. We might just have been misreading the situation. They might not have meant anything by it. They’ve never apologized – but then again, we’ve never asked them to.

The men in stories like this always have just enough power, in their little worlds and in ours, that to confront them would be to court an ordeal, to invite others to question our own memories and motives. It’s always more trouble than it’s worth. If you don’t have hard proof, if you don’t have a police report, then what do you have? Only what you remember. Only what you felt.

The ever awesome Roxane Gay has written a wonderful piece about The Price of Black Ambition for The Virginia Quarterly Review.
I have come to realize how much I have, throughout my life, bought into the narrative of this alluring myth of personal responsibility and excellence. I realize how much I believe that all good things will come if I—if we—just work hard enough. This attitude leaves me always relentless, always working hard enough and then harder still. I am ashamed that sometimes a part of me believes we, as a people, will be saved by those among us who are exceptional without considering who might pay the price for such salvation or who would be left behind.

Jeffrey Rosen has a great interview piece with the Notorious R.B.G. and her thoughts about feminism and other pressing matters: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is an American Hero
Work for the things that you care about. I think of the ’70s, when many young women supported an Equal Rights Amendment. I was a proponent of the ERA. The women of my generation and my daughter’s generation, they were very active in moving along the social change that would result in equal citizenship stature for men and women. One thing that concerns me is that today’s young women don’t seem to care that we have a fundamental instrument of government that makes no express statement about the equal citizenship stature of men and women. They know there are no closed doors anymore, and they may take for granted the rights that they have.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Follow Friday

Here's your weekly list of awesome folks you should be following!

In researching the Latinas in Space series, I discoveed Latinas in STEM's Facebook page. It's chock full of great posts, highlighting the truly amazing Latinas out there doing awesome stuff. You can also follow them on  Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

I just love Black Girl Nerds. I have been following them on Twitter for ages, and really enjoy reading their take on pop culture and nerdy pursuits. Because, you know, nerd-dome is big enough for all of us! You can also follow them on Google+ and Facebook.

I'm continually amazed by the things Maria Popova of Brain Pickings posts. Always smart and fun and just the perfect thing to read at the moment. Check out her posts on Facebook and Twitter.

And then there's Limor Fried, aka ladyada, founder of Adafruit Industries. You may recognize her from the Glamour magazine article shared around earlier this week. When she's not busy running a company and inventing all kinds of awesome stuff, she posts other awesome stuff on Google+ and Twitter. You should also follow the Adafruit Industries feeds on Google+, YouTube, and Facebook,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Latin@ Heritage Month - Latinas in Space 3

This is the third in a series of posts about Latinas working in the Space Industry. As you can read the first and second posts, there are Latinas working at or for NASA in a wide variety of roles -- doing science, designing equipment, etc.

As Michelle Madsen Camacho and Susan M. Lord note in their study and the follow up book, The Borderlands of Education: Latinas in Engineering, the low number of Latinas in STEM fields, and engineering in particular, is a matter of recruiting them in the first place. When a latina considers a degree in engineering, she has to be the one to show up to class after class filled with people who do not share her background. What is needed, they assert (and I agree), is a broader vision of what engineering looks like, and who is an engineer. To do this, we have to have more prominent role models for young women, and more public celebrations of diversity in STEM fields.

Dr. Marla Perez-Davis
Dr. Marla Perez-Davis is a chemical engineer who serves as Director for the Aeronautics Research Office at NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio.

She earned her BS from the University of Puerto Rico, her MS from the University of Toledo, and a PhD from Case Western Reserve University. All three degrees are in Chemical Engineering.

In 1983 she was hired by NASA, and has worked at the Glenn Research Center for most of her career. She has served as Chief of the Electrochemistry Branch, managing the research and development projects related to electrochemical energy conservation and storage. Her teams were responsible for researching and developing component design, cell fabrication, testing, advanced system conception and evaluation of proposed projects.

She also served as the Research and Technology Lead in the Plans and Programs Office, evaluating high level NASA policies and planning for the Glenn Research Center, and designing and implementing appropriate plans and processes to ensure quality and effective research. Dr. Pérez-Davis was also responsible for planning, coordinating, directing and supervising the Project Liaison and Integration Office. In this position, her primary responsibilities included implementing, integrating and managing all phases of technical management and resources analysis, and controls.

During her illustrious career, she has received a number of awards, including the 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award - Alumni Association of University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, 2003 Women in Aerospace Award for Aerospace Awareness, 2001 Women of Color Technology Award for Career Achievement, and the 2001 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Santiago Rodriguez Diversity Award. In 2009, Dr. Pérez-Davis was chosen as one of theHispanic Business Magazine's 25 Elite Women.

In addition to her duties at NASA, Dr. Pérez-Davis completed the Senior Executive Service Candidate Developmental Program in 2004. She also participated in the NASA Administrator’s Fellowship Program and served her tenure at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. She developed and implemented initiatives leading to K-12 teacher’s professional development and other outreach activities in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Marla Perez-Davis profile on Latina Women of NASA
Dr. Marla Perez-Davis profile on NASA website

Amri Hernández-Pellerano
Amri Hernández-Pellerano is a Puerto Rican electrical engineer and scientist who designs, builds and tests the electronics that will regulate the solar array power to charge spacecraft batteries and distribute the power within it. She works out of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She designed the power systems electronics for various scientific spacecraft that have been launched recently, or will be deployed soon.

She grew up in Puerto Rico, where she performed well in school, and was especially fond of math and science classes. After high school, she entered the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. While there, she applied to and was accepted into the NASA Cooperative Education Program, which enabled her to work with NASA scientist at Goddard while also earning school credit. She graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering, and was hired full time at Goddard. While working at Goddard she completed her MS in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

In 1992, she joined the Power Systems Branch at Goddard. In 2003, she received the GSFC Engineering Achievement Award for her design of the Power Systems Electronics for the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe mission, a NASA Explorer mission spacecraft which measures the temperature of the cosmic background radiation over the full sky with unprecedented accuracy. This map of the remnant heat from the Big Bang provides answers to fundamental questions about the origin and fate of our universe.

She is currently working on a variety of scientific spacecraft, including the Space Technology-5, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Lunar Reconnaissance Observer and the Aquarius/SAC-D missions. She is also the chair for the Hispanic Advisory Committee for Employees at Goddard, which serves as a liaison between NASA and its Hispanic employees on matters affecting their employment at Goddard.

Over her career, she has won numerous performances and team awards for her contributions in the area of Electrical and Power Systems Electronics, most notably the Goddard Space Flight Center Engineering Achievement Award and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. And she was just awarded the 2014 Great Minds in STEM/HENAAC (Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation) Professional Achievement II.

Amri Hernández-Pellerano profile on Latina Women of NASA
Amri Hernández-Pellerano biography on Wikipedia

Madeline Butler
Madeline Butler serves as the Deputy Senior Engineer of the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate and the Data Systems Standards Manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She also serves as the Engineering Technical Authority for the Space and Ground Networks. She was selected to join five other NASA engineers to design and develop the communications infrastructure to support future missions to Mars.

She was born in Maricao, Puerto Rico. Even as a young girl, she was fascinated with space, and was always looking at the stars through her telescope. During the 1969 Moon Landing, she made up her mind to work for NASA, no matter what. In 1971, she earned her BS in Mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. And in 1977 she made her dream come true. She was hired to work at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and worked there for over three decades. In 1981, while still working at NASA, she earned a MS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University.

In her time at NASA, she has served in a wide variety of roles, including the Head of the Telemetry and tracking Systems Section, Project Manager for the Automation of the NASA Ground Terminal at White Sands, New Mexico, Senior Systems Engineer for the Mission Operations and Data Systems Directorate, and Head of the Mission Implementation and Technology Management Office of the Mission Operations and Systems Development Division, where she managed engineers responsible for mission data systems design, development, testing, operations and planning of NASA missions.

Over her amazing career, she received several prestigious awards. She was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 1995 for the design of integrated science and mission control centers. She received the Silver Snoopy Award for outstanding support to Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) Program, the Manned Flight Launch Awareness Honoree, Award of Merit, for the achievements in support of the manned space program, and the NASA Equal Opportunity Award for the contribution towards reaching the Equal Opportunity goals.

She was one of the first women from Puerto Rico to be hired to work at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. To help foster opportunities for other Puerto Rican women at NASA, she has traveled there almost a dozen times to recruit more.

Madeline Butler profile on Latina Women of NASA

Lissette Martinez
Lissette Martinez is the lead electrical engineer for the Space Experiment Module program at the Wallops Flight Facility, which is part of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

She was born in Brooklyn, New York, but her family returned to Puerto Rico when she was still a child. In 8th grade, she had to study the moon for a class assignment. Every night for a month, she spent time on the roof of her house, taking notes and making observations about how it looked. This assignment set her on her course to study space in more detail.

After high school, she attended classes at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, where she studied Electrical Engineering. During her third year, she was able to participate in the NASA Cooperative Education Program which enabled her to partner with a NASA scientist while still earning school credit. She received her BS in Electrical Engineering in 1993, and was immediately offered a job at NASA as part of the team studying the Hale-Bopp comet.

She has also served as the electrical engineering support for the Code 870 Space Experiment Module (SEM) Program, an educational initiative to increase student access to space. She works out of the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Her duties include testing ground and flight hardware. When she's not busy doing that, she works with students from around the world, helping them develop science experiments that travel into space with astronauts.

Lissette Martinez biography on Wikipedia
Lissette Martinezprofile on Latina Women of NASA